When UK-based retailer Next released a plus-size range of clothing for children as young as three, it was quick to spark a huge debate online. The line, which features a number of jeans, uniforms, and tracksuit bottoms, is especially designed for children with waists that are larger than the average. It comes at a time where size has become such a sensitive issue and obesity cases are slowly on the rise. In the United Kingdom alone, as many as 27 percent of children are considered overweight or obese by the time they begin school.
News of the bold move has spread across media outlets in the UK with headlines accusing Next of promoting childhood obesity. Despite the backlash, Next proceeded with the launch, making them the only major clothing store in Britain to sell casual wear for children above the average size.
Plus Size Clothing for Kids Creates a Divided Reaction Online
On September 14, the Telegraph released a report that British brand Next was set to release a “Plus Fit” line for children and teens of ages 3 to 16. The report detailed that the pieces will accommodate bodies two inches larger than the sizes they carry on the store. For example, the 10+ fit will be especially tailored to a 27-inch (69 cm) waist rather than a 25-inch (64 cm) waist. The capsule collection consists of 47 pieces in total.
It is a known fact that human beings, including children, come in all shapes and sizes. So the negative reaction from Next’s plus-size clothing for kids is proof that the world is as critical of larger kids as they are with larger adults.
Majority of the outrage over Next’s extended sizes are linked to the fear that the line promotes the “epidemic” of childhood obesity. In their defense, the company simply wants to provide clothing for kids of all shapes and sizes. There is no epidemic of obesity anyway, as the condition has and never will be contagious. At the same time, the idea that a piece of clothing could make more children gain weight is completely illogical.
A spokesman for Next released this statement from the company:
“Our different ‘fits’ cater for children with different size waist and hips, taking into account that children come in all different shapes and sizes.”
Overall, larger kids need clothing and parents should have access to affordable options too. Criticizing Next’s plus-size line won’t solve the growing concern of childhood obesity, but a change of lifestyle can. Providing them with the same clothing options as their peers will do wonders to their body image while giving them the confidence to engage in physical activities with children their age.